Stuck Somewhere Between Who I am and Who I hope to be (Fight the Good Fight)

Disclaimer: I do not own or make any claim on NCIS; it is the property of its respective creators.

Summary: Ziva's wandered far, but her heart is still in D.C. When she finds out about the events in Kill Chain, and how their affecting her team, she knows exactly what she needs to do. It's time to go home. -an episode tag to 11x12's Kill Chain, what was happening elsewhere.

Major Spoilers: for NCIS's 11x12: Kill Chain. Really, spoilers for all of S11, so, far, and all of S10.

Story title comes from and is inspired by song Good Fight by Creed, which I do not own and make no claim on.

The amazing quote, that is Ziva's cannon favorite, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing," was said by Edmund Burke. I do not own it, and make no claim on it.

Quotes directly from an NCIS episode "'appear like this.'" I've used ones from the episodes Truth or Consequences and Kill Ari: Part 1, neither of which I own. I make no claim to them. They both belong to, and were written by other people than me. ;)

Warnings: There's talk of depression and burnout in this story. I have no medical training, I'm not saying this story is medically accurate, or that Ziva's actions are the right ones. Please, if you feel depressed or suicidal, get help. Speak to a friend or medical professional, or you can always call (if you live in the U.S.) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, there 24/7. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Author's notes: This story was inspired by me watching Kill Chain, and the whole time, but especially at the end, where Gibbs was a bear to poor Ellie, thinking, "Wow. They could really use Ziva there right now. Fighting terrorists is what she was raised to do. Ellie is trying her best, but this is not what's she used to." And I admit, I also just want Ziva home. This story is the result, up before tomorrow's episode joss's it. If this doesn't sound like something you want to read, please hit the back button. Enjoy! :)

She watches the French news broadcast of a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C., in her Paris apartment, with worried eyes and a racing heart, her hands automatically cleaning the gun in her lap, though it is already past spotless. Her cell phone stays stubbornly silent in its place on the table in front of her, though she mentally begs it to ring. Her frantic messages home have gone unanswered and all her contacts are telling her of grave, horrible things in hushed, hurried whispers. There is no doubt her team is on the front lines looking for Parsa, but the question she wants to know is are they alright? She has not felt this useless since she realized she could not stay in D.C. without losing what little she still understood of herself, but she did not want to go.

She chose Paris as a place to settle because it reminds her of possibilities and old friends. Jenny had loved it here, had told her so many stories about her time here undercover with a man she now knows to have been Gibbs. And it makes her think of Tony and their days here, she hurts thinking of him, but it is mostly a good hurt. It matches the constant phantom ache she feels when she mentions a movie and doesn't understand why she isn't hearing the whole history of the movie, who made it, who starred in it, whether it was any good or not, all delivered with a beaming smile and laughing green eyes, and then she does.

Like she keeps waiting to hear an explanation that will fly over her head whenever she asks a question about technology, told to her by someone that's excited to be in his element, but always so kind, and it doesn't come.

Just as whenever she sees a woman wearing black gloves or with a black parasol, she smiles and braces for a huge hug and long babble-fest, but then the face that turns around is never the one she wants to see.

And though she's heard quite a few Scotsmen speak, none have had the right voice with it's never ending stories and listening ear open to whoever needs it, living or dead.

There are many Jimmies in the world, but not a one like their autopsy gremlin, with his frequent wrong words, which she longs to hear said to her again, but always well-meaning heart.

And toothpick chewing is a rare habit, but whenever she sees it done by a man of the right color, she straightens and waits for a deep voice to call her "Ms. David," but they never do.

There are so many pairs of blue eyes in the world, but none of them are the pair that see all, but love her anyway, eyes that allow their user to never miss a shot, killing their target, and for that and so many other reasons she's never felt safer then when she was with the man who calls her Ziver.

She misses these things, the people they belong to, with an intensity that matches her grief and anger for and at Ari, her sorrow and confusion for their father, her love and longing for Tali and their mother. She had left to try to find some part of herself that seemed to be missing, or perhaps she had just been burned out, and while she found herself, it seemed her family had all lost themselves.

And now Benham Parsa, some up-start terrorist, is back, targeting them. (She tries to ignore Parsa's similarities to Ari, both dark haired, so very angry, too clever, British educated, possessing silver tongues to hide their sharp, venomous fangs, and both chose her team, her family as their enemies, but fails. She sees all of that and more, and doesn't like the picture it paints of where this fight is going. She cannot live through another Ari. She didn't survive the first one, not the girl she was.) No one is going after them, and they weren't fighting without her. Fighting terrorists is what she was raised and trained to do, and fighting evil, in all its many forms, is what she chose to do, over and over again. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing; she refuses to do nothing, to ever add to evil when she has the power to change things. She can acknowledge her father, avenge Tali and her mother, grieve the boy Ari was and give the middle finger to the man he became, honor Gibbs, all while being true to herself, by going to fight for her family, doing what she's chosen to do.

Her time in America caused her to forget every day could be your last. She never expected to live to twenty, to twenty-five, never mind thirty, as an active Mossad agent. As she told Gibbs shorty after meeting him, "'the good ones are all dead by your age.'" Burnout at Mossad usually meant someone ended up dead, or you were dead before it hit. And she spent her first few years at NCIS with that still in the back of her mind, then Somalia happened, and she did not expect to live through that, had sworn to never be taken alive, but she had been saved. She had been reborn in that desert, some part of her died, and some parts of her are ingrained so deep they will never leave.

She worked to become an NCIS agent, an American citizen, and she was glad she had. Ben came by her father's orders and left without her, thanks to her team, her father came back, trying for the first time since she was a girl, and she met Ray. And she was still missing something, but she did not know what, and she loved her team, and leaving them had never gotten her anywhere good, so she swallowed her pain, her tiredness, her knowledge something was wrong, and went through the motions. And then Ray betrayed her, and Harper Dearing targeted them, and there was an attack on where they worked, on their home, and that's how terrorists worked, but it wasn't okay. And Ducky had a heart attack, and Dearing wasn't truly gone, and there was Captain Wescott, who needed help but didn't want it, and she knew she should say something, but she told herself she'd been fine so far, why bring it all back up.

Then her father came back, he came to her home; he lied to her, killed someone, and he was murdered and he died, making it so she'd never have a chance to make things right between them. She didn't even get to hold him so he wouldn't be alone as he died because he made promises he couldn't keep, as always, making her too furious to be near him, so she left for air, causing her life to be spared. Her daddy was dead, and as she held him, begging him, her only blood family, to wake up, to not leave her alone, the last David standing, she felt something inside her break, just like it had when Tali was murdered, when her mother had been, too, when she killed Ari. She, who had been saved so many times, had a family who had all met brutal, painful, deliberate ends. Why was she spared? She was not okay. All her family was dead; Jackie Vance had been murdered because her father had been there in her house. The only thing that had kept her going was vengeance. She was just very good at pretending to be alive.

And she got her vengeance on Ilan Bodnar, who killed her father; after all he'd done for him, treating him better than his own children, not that was very hard. She'd pursued him like she was possessed, and maybe she had been, she needed a reason to keep going, she was going back to her roots, kill or be killed. He tried to kill her, tried to kill Tony, and all bets were off. He'd taken enough from her, he could not take more, she could not stand it, he was a threat to her family, and he needed to be stopped. She knows what she would have liked to do, kill him on the Ocean Voyager, but for the first time since this rage had consumed her, kept her going, Gibbs' voice echoed in her head, making her recall the conversation they had in the interrogation room after Ben had left.

"'I had nothing but death in my heart.'"

"'You never had a choice. He didn't give you a choice. He raised you to be a ruthless, soulless killer.'"

"'I did not mean to live through it.'"

"'You didn't. That part of you died out there.'"

"'I am... sorry, Gibbs,'" and she remembered she was no longer just Mossad, because if there's no such thing as an ex-Marine, there's no such thing as an ex-Mossad officer, either. She was an NCIS agent, she was a member of Gibbs' team, so if asked now she still doesn't know if she pushed Ilan to his death or if he let go. But she would never admit that to that rat Parsons, who had come into her home, trying to tear it apart, trying to destroy her family, destroy Gibbs, asking questions that dug into wounds he had no business asking about, making them bleed. He was just another type of terrorist, and she sacrificed her badge, as did Tony and Tim, to stop him and to save Gibbs, who had sacrificed his safety and their back-up to get a treacherous rat to stop destroying his life. And she had not been okay for a long time, but that was the last straw. Gibbs was gone, and she was no longer an NCIS agent. She had to leave, had to try to find a way to fix this pain and emptiness, anger and apathy, rage and depression that she'd pushed down for too long.

She is not a heroine in a romance novel. She knows she cannot keep running when she gets scared and expect her prince and her knights to chase after her, to prove to her that she is wanted, that they will save her. They have, and they did, alone and together. And she knew how it must have hurt Tony, when she sent him away. But she couldn't breathe at home in D.C. or in her homeland of Israel, she needed a break from murders and death, needed to see that the world held other things. She'd thought maybe that would make all these feelings better, or easier to manage, and she just didn't know how to explain all the emotions she suppressed even from herself, maybe especially from herself, to him. If she'd gone home then, she never could have sat on the sidelines, would have been drawn back in, and in doing so she would have only broken farther.

She had needed this time away, without anyone wanting anything from her, without ghosts, just her and a map. As she'd let the air in other places and random children's laughter, different languages, other wars, the cornucopia of accents in people's voices, the pure variety of people all over the world, the things that are different and those that stay the same everywhere, and whatever old friends she chose to see, her determination, her hopes and her dreams, her sorrow and her anger, her love and her willpower, her happiness and acceptance, all try and piece her back together, this time including whatever it is that's been missing from making, no, letting, her truly be okay.

And it had helped, she feels freer than she had in years, so much less burdened. She has talked her demons out, made her peace with them, or the start of it, anyway; thought out what she wants, pieced herself back together enough to have a solid foundation on which to build, but there's something different missing, now, and she knows what it is, she's just been too afraid to go get it. It's clear playtime's over; she'll have to find and assemble the rest of herself along the way, at home. And she's okay, truly, enough now, not to break, not that not being okay would have stopped her from going home even if she wasn't. She's not letting her boys back out in the field without her to guard their backs; they need supervision, they need back-up.

She stops cleaning her gun, throwing the rag aside and putting the gun in her ankle holster, and picks her phone up from the table, looking for the right number on her speed dial, and her finger hovers over it for a moment before pressing it, again. She hopes someone picks up this time. As it rings, she throws her remaining unpacked clothes into a bag, zips it up, and puts it next to her always ready to-go-bag, and adds more knives onto her body, takes another gun out of one of her safes, and puts it into her hip-holster. She ties her hair back as she takes out her secret stash from under the coach, double checks it, and realizes she'll have to have Shmeil ship it to her, she feels her heart pounding the whole time as she listens to each ring of the phone, with no answer. She's ready to hang up and try another number when she hears a long missed voice, not nearly as peppy as she's used to, but still oh, so, wonderful to hear. She feels a huge smile appear, in response hearing to that much loved voice again, on her face.

"Lab of Abby! How may I help you?"

She takes a deep breath. (She is not going to break. And all the remaining pieces of herself she's looking for lie there, in D.C., with those people, her family. No one's taking them from her.)

"I was hoping you could tell me everyone's alright; and get me a plane ticket home, Abby."

And as her friend's happy shrieks and babble deafen her ears, she knows she made the right choice, both in leaving and in coming back. (Something's been missing all this time she's wandered, and now she knows what it was. Home. It's time they all help complete each other. That's what family does.)

Written by Valerie Portolano

Finished Jan. 12th, 2014

Posted Jan. 13th, 2014